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If I were a Force user and were to cast a Force push targeted at another person standing so far away, would they have the ability to dodge it or would the person, no matter how fast they reacted, still be affected and hit by it?

To put in a crude manner: does the Force behave the same way that a projectile does or does its effect manifest at the point of the target?

I hope this makes sense. If not, please voice your concern(s) and I'll do my best to clarify.

  • If the target's vision (watching the Jedi) is still limited by spacetime, are you effectively asking if the force attack hits them before they see the Jedi casting it? Or are you asking whether it's exactly synchronous (i.e. both travelling at the same max lightspeed)? – Flater Oct 24 '19 at 13:53
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The Force operates instantaneously, regardless of distance.

In The Last Jedi (2017), Luke uses the Force to project an avatar of himself across an interstellar distance. The avatar interacts in real time with people on Crait (including a fast-paced battle) while Luke meditates on Ahch-To.

A Force user could conceivably envision a pulse of Force traveling from his or her hand toward an opponent. The user's control of the Force pulse would be via the instantaneous connection, but the pulse could be directed to move so slowly that the opponent could dodge it. This technique would require prolonged concentration, making it unsuitable for the close personal combat for which Jedi and Sith train. Force adepts would surely choose instead to manifest the effect immediately at the target.

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    It should be noted that even though the Force itself allows instanteneous communication with the rest of the universe, that doesn't mean every single force power has the same property. Does force push actually push on the target, or does it push on air which subsequently hits the target (travelling at the speed of sound)? We see Jedi perform superhuman jumps, running at superhuman speeds etc., but it seems a mere enhancement of their human abilities. In general, actual Jedi/Sith seem to only use a tiny fraction of what should be possible with the Force. – Luaan Oct 24 '19 at 12:05
  • Not only is it instantaneously but it's also syncing the timeframes that they are in somehow. Because time should be passing at different relative rates between the two planets. – Mark Rogers Oct 24 '19 at 15:44
  • It's strange that people in the SW universe have not devised mechanisms for communicating with themselves in the past, because this is possible with instantaneous messages, according to Special Relativity. If I'm on a planet/galaxy that's moving at a significant fraction of the speed of light away from you, and you send an instant force-message to me, and I reply with an instant message back to you, you would receive my response before you sent your original message. (Also if you force-pushed me, and I push you in retaliation, my push would be completely unprovoked in your frame of reference.) – Bridgeburners Oct 24 '19 at 18:41
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The Force clearly has the ability to convey information backwards in time, as well as forwards.

Yoda: Through the Force, things you will see. Other places. The future... the past. Old friends long gone.

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Whether telekinetic abilities behave the same way is less clear.

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Not sure if you’re looking for a Legends answer, but General Grievous did exactly the thing that you are talking about in the Clone Wars cartoon. See here at 10:15. He is able to dodge the force blasts in the hallway. This supports the theory that they behave like projectiles.

It is possible that you could “shoot” force blasts faster, just like you can throw a ball faster by throwing it harder.

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  • See the last paragraph on my answer - what if the "projectile" isn't force energy, but matter propelled by the force energy? – Astralbee Oct 24 '19 at 12:47
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    There is, ultimately, no meaningful distinction between the two things. – Lightness Races in Orbit Oct 24 '19 at 13:20
  • @Lightness: there is, because if you can instantly apply the force at a distance, then Anakin or whomever could have pushed Greivous over instantly. – nomen Oct 24 '19 at 16:15
  • @nomen: Right, and transitively, they could also have moved some other matter instantly, which in turn (modulo material compression) would have pushed Grievous over instantly. It's just an extra step in the propagation mechanism. – Lightness Races in Orbit Oct 24 '19 at 18:01
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    Well ok I suppose instantaneously applying a force to some matter isn't the same as making it travel some distance in zero time – Lightness Races in Orbit Oct 24 '19 at 18:02
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Besides the projection ability shown in The Last Jedi (as described in Gaultheria's answer), disturbances in the Force also appear to happen everywhere simultaneously.

  • In Revenge of the Sith, Yoda appears to sense the deaths of Jedi across the galaxy as they happen. Since these are happening on various planets that are presumably different distances from Kashyyyk, and since Yoda uses this knowledge to survive an attack from his own troops when they receive Order 66 a moment later, it doesn't appear that he's sensing the disturbance on a delay.
  • In A New Hope, Obi-Wan senses the destruction of Alderaan while the Millennium Falcon is still some distance away. While (to my knowledge) current canon doesn't say how fast the Falcon travels or how far it is from Tatooine to Alderaan, it seems safe to say that they're outside Alderaan's star system at the time Obi-Wan senses the disturbance.
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The Force is the energy that flows through the cosmic ecosystem. It is the energy between all things, a tension, a balance that binds the universe together.

If everything in the universe is connected - every atom of every living thing and the space between them - then the force can literally travel anywhere, in any direction. As an energy with no mass, it should take no "time" to "travel" anywhere.

However, your specific question involves interaction with physical beings. The force user attacking would have some thinking and reaction time. Even though the force may take no time to "travel" to its target, this would give the other party the same amount of reaction time.

Let's face it, in real life, nobody has reactions fast enough to dodge a speeding bullet. If anybody is able to react and avoid being hit, their reaction was to their assailant drawing and raising the weapon. If they waited until the trigger had been pulled to react, they would have little chance.

Although force-users in SW can invoke the force silently and without movement, in the heat of battle we do see that they have primitive reactions - they raise their arms and appear to try and physically manipulate the force with hand movements. As these are obviously not necessary, such movements appear to be instinctive and it is these actions that could give someone time to react, if anything.

Addressing the "projectile" aspect of the question - I don't believe that fighting with the force can be like shooting projectiles of energy when that energy is already everywhere surrounding everything. However, just as the force of combustion inside the chamber of a gun forces the bullet to shoot out, perhaps the kind of "projectile" shooting seen in some Star Wars stories is actually matter - air, even - which is now a projectile because of the way that the force has interacted with it? So it isn't force energy that travels from person to person, but rather the attacker uses the force to make whatever form of matter is between the two persons move like a projectile.

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  • Just because the Force is already everywhere, doesn't mean that your using it doesn't take time to propagate - if you have a long pole and push one end of it, the "push" doesn't reach the other end instantly. Of course, since the Force includes prophecy and precognition, it doesn't seem to limited to standard temporal definitions: It might even push someone before you use it, but the light of them being pushed arrives after you do so... – Chronocidal Oct 24 '19 at 11:46
  • @Chronocidal You missed a vital point in my answer - that the force binds everything and the space inbetween. Any suggested delay in your pole analogy is not perceptible, but is assumed to be there because no material is completely rigid. The wood has some very slight, imperceptible flexibility. But any space between molecules of wood is still occupied by atoms of another kind, so such an argument would not apply to The Force. – Astralbee Oct 24 '19 at 11:55
  • @Astalbee Perhaps a better example then would be Gravitational Waves, the mathematically deducted and observationally verified proof that the changes in the fabric of space-time itself only propagate at the speed of light. We have something in real-life that fulfils the "binds everything and the space in between" definition, and even that takes time to travel. – Chronocidal Oct 24 '19 at 11:58
  • @Chronocidal Not really. You're talking about a force that is exerted by a physical mass upon another physical mass. The Force already binds everything physical and non-physical. The connections are already there, it is a constant. Listen, I'm not trying to reconcile The Force with real-life physics. The in-universe answer is that if Luke can fight as a force ghost from a different planet with no latency whatsoever then it is instant. My answer was just trying to explain that using more scientific terminology. – Astralbee Oct 24 '19 at 12:39
  • By using the terminology incorrectly, and in a way that implies the opposite of the argument together. Gravity binds all things together - including light. Either light has no mass, and is thus disproves "As an energy with no mass, it should take no "time" to "travel" anywhere", or light has mass - according to E=mc² - and (as energy) so does the Force. Your pseudo-scientific explanation is not internally consistent - it appears to disprove itself. You're better of just leaving it as "space magic" – Chronocidal Oct 24 '19 at 14:01

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